Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree (Spoiler Free) review for PC, PlayStation, Xbox

Platform: PC
Also On: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: FromSoftware
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

Disclaimer: This will be a spoiler-free review, or as close to spoiler-free as possible while also covering what makes this DLC so great.

First things first, to even access the DLC, you have to have beaten both Starscourge Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. These are not exactly early-game bosses, nor are they easy. According to the Steam achievements, only about 55% of players have beaten Radahn, and only about 39% of players have beaten Mohg, Lord of Blood. This means that only 39% of players on Steam are even able to ACCESS the DLC.

If you have handled the prerequisites and can access Shadow of the Erdtree, congratulations! Prepare to die, a lot. I entered Shadow of the Erdtree at the recommended character level of 150. I am a full-blown strength build, smashing everything in my path with my +10 Ruins Greatsword in two hands. I was READY. I proceeded to get absolutely stomped out by the massive Furnace Golem roaming the plain in the opening area of the DLC.

This was not a one-off experience, either. Shadow of the Erdtree is one of the most difficult pieces of content that From Software has ever produced. This entire DLC is out to kill you, and if you aren’t careful and prepared, you will genuinely struggle. The first main boss will throw everything at you and make sure you really are ready to progress. Physical damage, lightning damage, and frostbite damage will all be thrown at you in the same fight.

Shadow of the Erdtree is also MASSIVE. At first glance, the map itself doesn’t seem all that big, but once you start exploring and uncovering more and more of what the world has to offer, you start to realize how layered it is, and just how much there is to do. I would argue that I spent possibly MORE time exploring and looking for secrets in Shadow of the Erdtree than I did with the base game because it is simply that complex and layered on top of itself. I cannot overstate just how much there is to find and do here, and how overwhelmingly dense the world is. If you can see it, you can access it. That goes for staring down into nearly bottomless chasms and staring up at the heights of massive mountains. For some context, it took me about 30 hours to “finish” the DLC, but I spent another nearly 30 hours exploring and uncovering things that I had not seen initially.

Shortly after entering the DLC, you will be introduced to Scadutree Blessings and Revered Spirit Ash Blessings. The former will allow you to do more damage and receive less damage but is ONLY active while you are in the DLC area. The latter does the same but only applies to your Spirit Ashes and Torrent, your spectral steed. This allows you to grow strong enough to tackle the challenges that Shadow of the Erdtree throws at you, without having to level up too far beyond your entry level. This allows the DLC to feel incorporated into the main game, while not ruining the experience of playing in the main world by overpowering you to the point it becomes not fun.

To touch on the difficulty just a bit more without overstating things, you are going to get killed by stuff that you don’t anticipate being able to kill you. Even the most basic of enemies, that you would anticipate being able to knock out with no issues can swarm and kill you in seconds. Coming from the main map where you feel like you can do anything may cause a bit of a learning curve early on, and Shadow of the Erdtree throws some incredibly difficult NPC invasions at you right away to make sure you are fully awake for what this DLC has to offer. Without getting into any spoilers, the bosses in Shadow of the Erdtree will genuinely test your skills, and the final boss is up there as one of the very hardest bosses in Souls history.

Touching on the world for a bit, Shadow of the Erdtree has one of the most bio-diverse maps that From Software has ever offered. I spent so much time wandering around the world just taking in the views and vistas, with so much to explore and experience. The sweeping, somber musical score also adds another layer of beauty to the world, and is one of the best video game scores ever crafted. Never in your face, but always swelling and ebbing to enhance your experience without necessarily pointing itself out.

This all culminates in one of the most cohesive worlds that From Software has ever created. Shadow of the Erdtree feels more like a true sequel than a DLC, and I love that. It never feels like an “expansion”, but more like a “continuation”, which is an important distinction for me. I will maintain that The Old Hunters DLC for Bloodborne is still my favorite thing that From Software has ever done, but Shadow of the Erdtree is probably better, objectively. That said, the inclusion of Shadow of the Erdtree to the already exceptional Elden Ring really solidifies this game at the top of the From Software pyramid of games. It is so seamlessly added into the main game, and offers so many answers to questions posed in that game, that it is impossible to separate the two, nor do I think you should try.

I will mention one thing that could be a complaint, but not necessarily. The genuine open world, similar to the base game, allows a player to unintentionally reach the end while missing massive sections of the game. I found myself at the final boss on my second day of playing, with two massive sections of the map not even uncovered yet. I left the boss and went exploring and found tons of additional areas and bosses and content, but if I had not paid close attention and did not KNOW who the final boss was, I could have unintentionally finished the DLC while missing tons of content.

Shadow of the Erdtree is another perfect culmination of everything that has come before it, which at this point seems to just be the norm for From Software. Some of the greatest moments in all of Souls are found within Shadow of the Erdtree, but it will make you work harder for them than ever before. Exploration and curiosity are the key, and you will be rewarded in ways that you cannot imagine as you delve into the Shadow Realm introduced here. I adored Shadow of the Erdtree, and cannot wait for more people to experience what has so thoroughly blown me away in my time with it.

Bandai Namco provided us with a Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree PC code for review purposes.

Score: 10

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree PS5

Price: $79.95

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